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ABT News

October 27, 2014

ABT and the Arts Initiative at Columbia University Announce New Partnership in Conjunction with ABT's 2014 Innovation Initiative

Partnership to Enable Columbia Students to Interface with ABT for Master Classes, Choreographic Workshop Rehearsals and Performances

Works-in-Process to be Performed at Miller Theatre at Columbia University, Sunday, November 16 at 3pm

Lauren Post and Luis Ribagorda in ABT's 2010 Innovation Initiative performance.

American Ballet Theatre and the Arts Initiative at Columbia University have formed a new arts partnership that will offer students a unique, in-depth immersion into the process of creating a new ballet.  It was announced today by Rachel Moore, ABT CEO and Melissa Smey, Executive Director of the Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre at Columbia University. The partnership was designed as a complement to American Ballet Theatre’s Innovation Initiative, a two-week choreographic workshop spearheaded by Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie and ABT Principal Dancer David Hallberg.

The Innovation Initiative will culminate in a performance at Miller Theatre at Columbia University on Sunday, November 16, at 3PM.  The performance will be highlighted by works-in-process choreographed by members of American Ballet Theatre and outside creators, and performed by ABT dancers.

Choreographers selected for this year’s Innovation Initiative include ABT corps de ballet members Gemma Bond, Claire Davison and Daniel Mantei.  For the first time since the program was established in 2010, ABT’s Innovation Initiative has invited two outside choreographers to participate.  Choreographers Jillian Peña, a dance and video artist, and Pam Tanowitz, of Pam Tanowitz Dance, join ABT Company members in the exploration of new ideas and movement.

In the weeks preceding the performance, Columbia University students will have several opportunities to become intimately familiar with ABT and the choreographic process.  The Arts Initiative at Columbia University will coordinate a variety of special events in partnership with ABT, giving students the opportunity to attend a performance at the David H. Koch Theater; observe an early rehearsal of the new works at ABT’s studios; participate in a master class led by an ABT dancer; and attend the final Innovation Initiative program when it is performed on campus at Columbia University on November 16.

“We are grateful to the Arts Initiative at Columbia University and Miller Theatre for partnering with ABT and the Innovation Initiative,” said ABT CEO Rachel Moore.  “Columbia University’s participation helps make this workshop possible, while expanding the arts offerings available to their students.  It’s a win-win for both organizations.”

“I am so excited to be working with American Ballet Theatre to pilot this new model for audience development in the arts,” said Melissa Smey, Executive Director of the Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre at Columbia University. “Many arts organizations struggle with the question of how to cultivate the next generation of audiences.  We believe that by providing students from a variety of academic backgrounds with access to the creative process through a sustained, multifaceted partnership like this, we can help instill a lifelong love of the arts that they will carry with them throughout their adult lives.”

Student participants will include dancers studying in the Department of Dance at Barnard College and members of co-curricular dance groups such as Orchesis and Columbia Ballet Collaborative.  Attendance at the performances and rehearsal visits will be open to any interested Columbia student, regardless of major.  For more information, please visit the Arts Initiative’s website,

Tickets for the Innovation Initiative performance, priced at $15 for the public, can be purchased beginning on November 3 at; in person, at the Miller Theatre Box Office (2960 Broadway at 116th Street); or by calling 212.854.7799.

Student tickets, priced at $7, are available for pre-sale to all students with valid Columbia University ID beginning today, October 27. The Miller Theatre Box Office is open Monday through Friday, from 12 noon to 6 p.m., and starting two hours before performances.


The Innovation Initiative is generously underwritten by Dr. Joan Taub Ades and Irene and Fred Shen.




Recognized as one of the premier dance companies in the world, American Ballet Theatre brings the highest quality dance and dancers to audiences across the globe.  Celebrating its role as America’s National Ballet Company® ABT tours nationally and internationally, performing for over 400,000 people annually.

Since its founding in 1940, ABT developed a repertoire, under the direction of Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith, that honored the past while encouraging the development of the art form through the creation of new works.  Classics from the 19th century like Swan Lake, Giselle and The Sleeping Beauty live side by side with seminal works of the early 20th century such as Apollo, Les Sylphides, Jardin aux Lilas and Rodeo, as well as such contemporary masterpieces as Push Comes to Shove and Airs. In acquiring such an extraordinary repertoire, ABT has commissioned works by the great choreographic geniuses of the 20th century: George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins, Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp, among others.  In 2009, choreographer Alexei Ratmansky was named Artist in Residence with ABT.

Today, under the artistic direction of former ABT Principal Dancer Kevin McKenzie, the Company remains steadfast in its vision as “American” and continues to bring the art of dance theater to the great stages of the world.



The Arts Initiative at Columbia University is a pioneering venture to make arts and culture a meaningful part of every Columbian’s experience. The Arts Initiative’s programs encourage students, faculty, and staff to experience the creative life of the campus, engage the cultural riches of New York City and the wider world, and create arts and performance. Under the auspices of the Arts Initiative, Columbia students, faculty, and staff attend cultural events across New York City, benefit from ticket discounts and subsidies, and connect with each other through vibrant arts programming. These programs benefit from engagement with Columbia’s world-class faculty, especially those of the School of the Arts&##44; of which the Arts Initiative is a part. Since its founding in 2004,

the Arts Initiative has facilitated 39,000 free visits to 34 different New York museums; welcomed leading artists like Valery Gergiev, Diane Paulus (‘97SOA), Suzan Lori-Parks, and Lydia R. Diamond to campus for “Creative Conversations”; and sold over 500,000 tickets to arts and cultural events throughout the city.

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